It's the 150th Anniversary of Black Troops Serving in the Military

African American soldiers resting in Virginia in 1864 near Aiken's Landing, Va. African American soldiers resting in Virginia in 1864 near Aiken's Landing, Va. National Archives

Crowds packed the streets of Boston to watch the newly minted soldiers march toward the Statehouse for inspection. The throng roared as the regiment passed by, many of them cheering "more enthusiastically than ever they had done before," according to one Boston Journal reporter.

This first all-black troop was heading off to war. Since the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863, blacks had been enlisting in the military. But this day formalized their inclusion, however segregated it was. The military would not be desegregated until 1948.

When they assembled in front of Gov. John A. Andrew, the soldiers' "lines were by no means perfect," but "they marched in good time, and wheeled with a readiness which showed that they had a clear idea of what was required, and only needed a little more practice to equal the best regiments that have left the State." After all, recruitment for their unit had only begun in February. A band led the way, "but they did not perform, being still under practice."

One hundred fifty years ago today, the War Department ordered the establishment of the United States Colored Troops, which would grow to include nearly 200,000 black men by the end of the Civil War; 40,000 of them would die. But death wasn't the only peril. There was also the threat of being captured and enslaved by the Confederacy. As The New York Times reported at the time, the Confederacy "proclaimed their determination not to regard such citizens, or their white officers, as prisoners of war, but to subject them to the bloody penalties prescribed in Southern statute-books for persons inciting insurrection among slaves."

Click here to see a copy of the order, issued May 22, 1863, and to read the rest of the story at NationalJournal.com.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.